12, 2012, by Will Hoover
More recent episodes of Star Trek: New Voyages/Phase II, such as the heavy
handed, David Gerrold helmed Blood and Fire - Part 1 (Episode 04) and Part 2 (Episode 05), have been much less satisfying than some of the first installments of the show, yet the final stages of the five
year mission promised in the original series are definitely still unfolding (as web series creator James Cawley has intended), with several more episodes, still currently in production, yet to be released.
Visit the Orion Press web page to get an accurate, up to date and, I believe, quite fair and unbiased overview of the much lauded web series' progress thus far.
|The happy, but ill fated Blood & Fire couple, Peter Kirk (Bobby Rice) & Alex Freeman (Evan Fowler)
Blood and Fire:
Parts I and II are disastifying, NOT because of the subject matter the otherwise talented Mr. Gerrold chose to tackle in his two
part episode (that was originally rejected as a Star Trek: The Next Generation script by Gene Roddenberry himself, by the
way), but simply the way he chose to deal with it.
Perhaps if a number of the scenes in both parts of the story
had been executed better, and some more gratuitous scenes had been trimmed (not for the sake of censorship but for sheer sensibility
and attention to the actual PLOT of the show itself), Blood and Fire might have worked a little better overall.
|No, this is NOT your father's Star Trek...
As it is, mostly
poorly delivered lines such as, "He's not human. He's James T. Kirk," "You are in my way"
and "You just wanted to get my shirt off," don't lend much credence or believability to the production.
But then, that may be why having George Takei and Walter Koenig guest star in previous installments made those two particular
episodes work so well for so many fans who, like myself, were initially on board - despite the show's long standing reputation
for bad acting.
|Peter Kirk sounds off about his pesky uncle Jim to his Vulcan roommate Xon (Patrick Bell)
Whatever the case
may actually be, I certainly hope that the lengthy opening tribute (diatribe?) that appears at the beginning of the first
act of Blood and Fire isn't referring to anyone the producers of the episodes may have ever known in particular.
The AIDS Epidemic is definitely serious and should always have been taken as such from the very beginning, but to use inflamatory and
accusatory words like, "inaction," "hypocrisy" and "cowardice" in what should otherwise
be a hearfelt tribute statement at the beginning of a fan produced Star Trek episode...? Hmm....
only the beginning actually. In fact, both parts of the story feature much stronger language in dialogue than previously
seen in any incarnation of a mainstream Star Trek production that I can personally ever recall.
|Freeman, Fontana (Debbie Huth) and a meaner Dr. McCoy (John Kelley) than was perhaps necessary
sanctimonious bastard!" Cawley's Kirk sneers furiously at the ship's chief medical officer in
part 2 and McCoy (played by John Kelley, whom I was really beginning to like, before I saw his character become
so blatantly abrasive in this episode) is no slouch either when it comes to insults and a meaness that, sorry...
seems to go much, much too far, and certainly way beyond the pale in comparison to DeForest
Kelley's more tempered and consistent portrayal of the good doctor.
|Fontana & McCoy treat an anguished Peter in one of the few scenes where the doctor isn't swearing
Admittedly, the chief
medical officer of the original series was often a pretty grumpy, even volatile guy, but he was far from
being cruel. And at least the producers of the classic show (and all the subsequent movies the character
appeared in) seem to have had the good sense to never let the good doctor's fits of anger border on blatant rudeness
and verbal abuse.
Yet the Leonard "Bones" character in Blood and Fire is especially abrasive,
particularly when admonishing Peter Kirk's medical technician lover Freeman, in a particularly
over the top scene set in Enterprise Sickbay. "Freeman, you move too long in one place." Phase II McCoy hurtles
even more frequent verbal putdowns at his young female medical assistant, disparagingly barking, "Fontana,
go heal something." Ouch!
|Despite other notable stumbing blocks, Phase II has fantastic effects, props, sets and music
Despite the fact
that the sets, props, costumes, effects and music all seem flawlessly authentic, while watching Blood and Fire, one may be
left wondering, 'Is this REALLY supposed to be Star Trek?' Or is it something else entirely?
I may have been able to stomach Ronald D. Moore and David Eick's more "adult," sometimes even
seedy and at times needlessly graphic revamp of Battlestar Galactica, but I'm not so sure that I really want to see THAT happen to classic Star Trek. Yet, such decidely
dark frontiers is where the Star Trek: Phase II web series unfortunately seems to be headed. If Blood
and Fire is any indication, that is.
|Bill Blair as Commander Blodgett, an unknown "red shirt" and Dr. Jenna Yar (Denise Crosby)
All in all, without
the addition of wonderfully gifted original series alumni (and perhaps someone to mind the store in their absence), I'm
afraid episodes 04 and 05 of Star Trek: Phase II simply fall short of the mark. And even the addition of Star Trek veteran
special guest stars such as Denise Crosby and Bill Blair do little to help either installment along.
In fact, prior to catching Blood and Fire on the Web, I was
a big fan of the show. Now, not quite as much. And I can say with certainty that my appraisal of the
fan produced project has absolutely nothing to do with the overriding theme of acceptance of homosexuality that Gerrold clobbers
us over the head with in his single minded two parter, that might actually just be summed up by invoking the tried and
true old adage; "Too much, too little, too late."
|John Carrigan as the Klingon Kargh looks impressive, but literally sneers most lines of his dialogue
Gay rights are one
thing, but Blood and Fire: Parts 1 and 2 collectively come off as little more than an excuse to comment on... just
exactly that, with not much more real story driven substance or appeal to offer fans of other persuasions that may actually have
rights to self expression of their own.
And that's kind of sad, coming from a man that I have always
respected and admired very much, having written one of the finest original Star Trek series episodes ever made, the perennial
fan favorite, The Trouble with the Tribbles.
|Writer and director David Gerrold in a Phase II cameo
In any case, my dissatisfaction
is certainly not with David Gerrold himself, since I greatly admire his passion and courage in mounting such an ambitious
production. In fact, I sincerely believe that Mr. Gerrold is a fantastically gifted creative force in
the entertainment industry, and I hope he continues to be a major contributor to not only Star Trek Phase II, but
to any and all future Star Trek productions. Naturally, the same can be said of the talented and always industrious James
Cawley, without whom, the show wouldn't exist at all.
Although webisodes 4 and 5 may have fallen
a bit short of the mark, overall, the New Voyages/Phase II series and most aspects of its execution over the years since
its inception, have been nothing short of truly remarkable. That said however, Blood and Fire Parts 1 and 2 seem
to serve as a stark lesson of what can happen when a fan generated production of this nature is given far too
much latitude to perhaps too freely re-interpret the original material.
|The impressive looking cast of Star Trek: Phase II, as they appeared in episodes 04 and 05
But don't just
take my word for it. Visit the Star Trek: New Voyages/Phase II website and download Blood and Fire Part 1 and Part 2 for yourself. You can also watch both webisodes online, or view any other installment in the series you
may not have yet seen. If you have seen them all, you can always watch 'em again or look for updates about
The one to watch right at the moment is S04E08: Kitumba, which is also currently streaming online. The New Voyages website is quite well done and features
a collection of truly impressive posters, desktop wallpapers (the link to which was down at the time of
this writing) and even a beautifully illustrated eMagazine companion. So... what are you waiting for? Energize!